You can do this!!!!
As the public schools continue to become less safe physically, emotionally, and spiritually more and more parents are considering homeschooling. On a daily basis parents around the country are asking questions to their friends and using Facebook forums to trying and wrap their heads around where to begin. It can be overwhelming to start the process but once you get going I promise homeschooling can be easy, refreshing, and enjoyable! Just like we often get a quick start guide to electronics, here is your quick start guide to starting your children on their home education!
1) Begin with confidence
Dear parent, there is no one who loves your child like you do. Don’t be afraid. You are not going to screw up your child!
In an academic sense, a parent’s educational background has no major impact on their children’s homeschool academic performance. Home educated students’ test scores remain between the 80th and 90th percentiles, whether their mothers have a college degree or did not complete high school. A child in a public school whose parent has a Ph.D. will score 25 to 30 percent lower, on average, than a homeschooled student whose parent doesn’t even have a high school diploma! The key here is one-on-one tutoring (best way to learn) and a parent who loves the child more than anyone else.
In a social sense just think about how a loving parent can teach their child how to socialize. You will teach your child when you are out in the world interacting with adults during the day or when you are with family friends spending time with children of all ages. You get to teach your child how to be hospitable, kind, others-centered, and how to maintain friendships that span the test of time. Socialization in school looks completely different. In the public school, socialization is a large group of same-age kids influencing your child year after year. This public school socialization certainly does not cure awkwardness. Public schools are full of awkward students. The world is full of quirky people. Having awkward social skills is a personality issue that schooling will not fix.
In an emotional sense homeschooling offers a pace of life where children thrive, far away from bullying and peer pressure. It is a safe, sweet and secure environment. Remember that public school teachers are not superhuman. They have bad days and personal problems. You don’t have to be perfect to facilitate your child’s learning. 95% of homeschool graduates say they are glad they were homeschooled. You can do this!
You are the most qualified person to teach your child!
- Home School Legal Defense Association Research ( https://hslda.org/content/research/ )
- National Home Education Research Institute ( https://www.nheri.org )
- Rich Habits Test for Parents (notice how none of these have to do with public education!) ( http://richhabits.info/wp-content/uploads/RICH-HABITS-TEST-PARENTS.pdf )**
2) Begin with space
Barreling through the school day and/or trying to recreate a public school setting will probably lead to burnout for everyone. We build a lot of empty space into our school year. Here’s where you can find all sorts of open expanses of time during the year:
- ○ start of the day is never rushed
- ○ in between subjects there is time to play
- ○ we schedule two half days every week for field trips and social time
- ○ we finish school work around 1:30 and have long afternoons and evenings
- ○ every weekend is without homework
- ○ all school work fits into 36 weeks so we have many weeks off (especially fun around the holidays)
I love to have loose parts toys available during down time (magnatiles, blocks, tree blocks, spielgaben, legos, playdough with tools, felt, water beads, wool felting, craft kids, finger knitting, kapla blocks, etc.) When the kids are engaged with loose parts I can give one-on-one attention, run a load of dishes, prepare meals, check schoolwork, plan ahead, make a quick phone call, etc.
Downtime is a necessity for child development. “If you really want a child to thrive and blossom, lose the screens for the first few years of their lives. During these key developmental periods, let them engage in creative play…. But most importantly, let them experience boredom ; there is nothing healthier for a child than to learn how to use their own interior resources to work through the challenges of being bored. This then acts as the fertile ground for developing their powers of observation, cultivating patience and developing an active imagination – the most developmentally and neurosynaptically important skill they can learn.” – Nicholas Kardaras, Ph. D.
You can do this! You will still have space in your day and your life!
- Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne
- The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally by David Elkind
3) Begin with relationships & connections
The Get Connected page is an ideal resource because it includes regional homeschool groups for all of Michigan. You will get actual contact information from families right in your community! It’s a great place to start.
You can do this! There are so many people who can help you! You will create amazing and long lasting relationships both for yourself and for your child!
- Getting Started – Michigan Homeschooling
4) Begin with nothing (deschool)
Homeschooling doesn’t have to look like a public school classroom. Most of the time it looks very different. A classroom with one adult and a few dozen kids has to have a certain structure simply to maintain order. Major decisions are often made because of politics instead of because of what it best for child development.
If you are pulling a child from public school you can take a period of time to reset. Some use the summer as a reset period. Consider taking at least a few weeks to get the old mode off the brain and prepare for something new and different!
If you have younger children remember that all-day kindergarten is new and that a heavy emphasis on academics for young kids is not research-backed. Spend a small amount of time on academics and then play, bake, paint, roll down hills, look at the stars, and visit the zoo. These are precious years! Enjoy them together!
You can do this! You don’t have to feel a lot of pressure!
- The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live by Kathy H. Lee
- A Year of Playing Skillfully by Kathy H. Lee
- Slow and Steady, Get me Ready by June Oberlander
- Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray
5) Begin with a loose schedule
Down to the nitty gritty. How exactly is this going to work? Look through what others are doing, find something you like, and copy!! That’s what we did. In time we’ve adapted here and there but our overall structure remains the same. You can use YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest to find all sorts of inspiration. Our inspiration came from Farmhouse Schoolhouse and Ann Voscamp.
We’ve broken our school year into three 12 week terms (trimesters).
Term Two begins in January and runs through mid-April. There is space during those months to head south!
Term Three runs mid-April to the end of June and those months we just do the core subjects.
We spend an hour or two on schoolwork those mornings and then take advantage of the great weather. All of August is pure vacation and then we start again in September.
Our daily schedule looks like one subject per hour and if the kids finish early they can play until the next hour begins. This routine gives us the space we all need so as not to get bogged down. It also keeps the kids motivated to finish their work. Broken down it looks like this:
- Between 7:30 & 8:30 – breakfast; get dressed; brush teeth, hair; family worship (10-15minutes); classical conversations, poem, read aloud (10-15 minutes)
- 9:00 – art/music/handcrafts (If we don’t do these first I tend to skip it)
- 10:00 – snack/writing
- 11:00 – reading/history
- 12:00 – lunch (read alouds sometimes)
- 12:30 – logic (math/science)
I use weekly notecards to write down each kids assignments. I’ve read some parents use cheap notebooks.
You can do this! You can always adapt whatever you try! There is no “right way”.
6) Begin with curriculum (pick from the top two or three)
There is no perfect resource. They all have pros and cons and they all have holes. Take spelling for example. Should you teach using sight words, phonics, or chunking? Whatever you choose your child will progress and in time you can cheaply add in some extra resources for the kids who need it. Consistency is so helpful when it comes to retention and public school students do not get consistency through their materials. Textbooks are changed often in the public schools.
The truth about school textbooks is that it’s all about the money. “You don’t think education publishing companies are in it for education, do you? No. They’re in it for the money,” Dianne Barrow, the West Coast accounts manager for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, was caught on camera as saying.
She went on to say, “I hate kids. I’m in it to sell books. Don’t even kid yourself for a heartbeat,” she says as she starts to laugh hysterically.
When I am looking for new resources I tend to look at the top two or three. I’m looking to see that it appeals visually to me, that is is rigorous enough, and that it is doable for our current situation of kids ages and stages. Ask to see what other homeschool families are using. Attend the INCH INCH Conference where you can touch and see all sorts of different options. They have a Used Curriculum Sale and a large vendor hall!
You can do this! Whatever you choose is fine! Just start somewhere!
- www.cathyduffyreviews.com (notice that she makes a note of the top ones)
- Ask other homeschoolers
- INCH Conference
We spend about $300 per year, per child. The resources we use are: Math-U-See , Spell-U-See , Apologia Science (Textbook and notebooking journal plus experiments if applicable), Handwriting without Tears , Apologia Readers and Writers in Residence (4th grade and up), Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons , Explode the Code reading books , Mystery of History , varying Biographies, Classical Conversations APP , Writing Journal ( Teachers pay Teachers ), Morning Work ( Teachers pay Teachers ), Reading Primer
7) Begin with fun stuff
As a homeschooler you get to enjoy everything like it’s your very own. Take advantage of being some of the only people at the museums, zoos, nature centers, indoor play places, parks, playgrounds, etc. Use the extra time you have to follow the child’s natural interests – cooking, fishing, sports, music, dance, history, art, etc. There is so much extra time for all the fun, enriching stuff.
You can do this! Enjoy this time with your kids!
- Balanced and Barefoot by Angela Hanscom (I HIGHLY recommend this book!)
8) Begin with support
Ask someone to mentor you. The INCH Conference would be a great place to find a mentor! Attend home school conferences, read books about homeschooling, join a few facebook groups or a co-op. All of these things will support you in many different ways. There is advice for every situation out there!
You can do this! It will be easy to find someone who will want to help you!
9) Begin with the end in mind
You can find graduated homeschoolers in every realm of life. They are easily accepted into colleges with the transcripts and diploma that you create. You can buy fill-in-the-blank transcripts and diplomas online. A beautiful diploma in a case costs only $32.
Over 74% of home-educated adults ages 18-24 have taken college-level courses, compared to 46% of the general US population. There are so many options for high schoolers and those post- high school. There are dual enrollment options and online options. The possibilities continue to grow and there are all sorts of resources available to help during these important years!
You can do this! Your child will turn out great! Diversity of life experience is a benefit!
10) Begin with wisdom.
James 1:5 – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. This is really all you need. God will give you ample wisdom on a daily basis if you ask for it. Every day God confirms our decision to educate at home. He will do the same for you!
You can do this! You can trust that God will light your path!
Ginny Yurich is a Michigan mother of five. She has a B.S. in mathematics and M.A. in Education both from the University of Michigan. After spending six years teaching in the public schools she decided, along with her husband Josh, to pursue a Biblical Home Education for their children. They are just wrapping up their fifth year of homeschooling and they recommend it without reservation. Ginny blogs at 1000 Hours Outside where she encourages parents worldwide to spend less time on screens and more time in nature. You can find tips and tricks, encouragement, and the latest research on the benefits of nature immersion on the 1000 Hours Outside blog and on the 1000 Hours Outside facebook account. The Yurich family hopes to meet you at the Inch Conference this May!